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Age Concern and Help the Aged welcomes eleventh-hour action on home care and fuel poverty

“We welcome the Government’s decision to focus its last Queen’s Speech before the General Election on some of the key issues affecting older people‚ but ministers will be in a race against time to deliver on this last-minute agenda.

“Providing free home care for people with the highest needs and introducing energy price support for households in fuel poverty will provide welcome relief for some of the poorest and most vulnerable older people. But eradicating fuel poverty and fixing the crumbling care system will require much more comprehensive strategies.

“With only a few months left before the end of this Parliament‚ time is running out to get these measures and the long awaited Equality Bill onto the Statute Book. But it is still not too late for the Government to use the Equality Bill to scrap the Default Retirement Age and leave an enduring legacy of real change for our older population.”

Social Care Bill
“We warmly welcome the Bill in the Queen’s Speech to bring in free personal care at home for those with the highest needs. This represents the first step in ensuring a better deal for this group. It will be essential that councils are properly funded to provide this care‚ so that there are no perverse incentives to either push older people into residential care homes earlier than needed or assess their needs as not critical enough to warrant free care at home.

“Even if this Bill reaches the Statute Book‚ fundamental reform of the entire care system will still be urgently required. We call on all the political parties to set out definitive plans for reforming the system ahead of the next General Election so that older people‚ their families and carers can judge their proposals for providing the high quality care people desperately need.”

Energy Bill
“Government action to improve the social tariff system for people in fuel poverty is long overdue. With only just over a million households benefitting from social tariffs‚ the current voluntary system is failing to reach the majority of the five million households estimated to be in fuel poverty – half of whom are older households. The new regime must streamline eligibility criteria and ensure that the poorest customers are automatically placed on the lowest available tariff offered by their energy supplier. While this will bring some long-awaited relief to many older households‚ a more ambitious long term strategy is needed to make the country’s housing stock fuel poverty proof.”

Equality Bill
“The Equality Bill is an unparalleled opportunity for the Government to call time on age discrimination‚ the most common form of discrimination in the UK. This legislation will be a huge step forward in removing the barriers older people face in accessing goods and services. To ensure that this Bill will achieve real changes for older people‚ the Government must set out a clear timetable for implementation.

“We hope the Bill will be strengthened as it goes through Parliament by abolishing the Default Retirement Age which enables employers to force people to retire when they reach 65.”

Financial Services Bill
“This Bill is a great opportunity to boost financial education and advice for consumers‚ which is key to helping people plan their retirement and maximise their income after a life of hard work. But education and guidance alone won’t protect consumers when things in the market go wrong. This is why we support proposals to strengthen regulators’ powers and introduce some form or collective redress.

“The Government should also oblige banks to improve accessibility to their services‚ especially for older people living in rural areas. An immediate step would be to ensure that all banks make their current accounts accessible through post offices.”

Digital Economy Bill
“While setting out plans to increase the availability of broadband across the UK‚ the Government shouldn’t forget that almost two in three people over 65 have never used the internet. In tackling the digital divide it is vital to take into account barriers older people experience in becoming digitally included.”


Tags: , , , , This entry was posted on Sunday, November 15th, 2009 at 2:13 pm and is filed under Access2Care, Age Concern, Elderly Care, Home Care, Latest News, Specialist Care. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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